Stir, strain, straight up, cocktail glass, garnish

Cocktail summary
Posted by Dan on 6/06/2010
Created by
Jeff Grdinich, White Mountain Cider Company, Bartlett, NH
Is an
authentic recipe
Not yet rated
3.5 stars
(46 ratings)
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From other users
  • Pretty strong; the Luxardo doesn't play that nice — ★★★
  • Consider reducing Maraschino or Grand Marnier by 0.25
  • Fernet Branca
  • Nice Manhattan variant. Cut back on Grand Marnier to 1/2 oz.
  • Widow Jane Bourbon — ★★★★★
  • I made it with Cointreau and used just slightly less of each of the liqueurs - truly delicious!
  • Very good. A bit sweet, so I added the 1/4 oz of Lemon. Also might be better with rye. — ★★★★★
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I love this drink! This is the drink that made me fall in love with Fernet. The first time I made it, I halved the fernet because it was just too strong of a flavor for me. In fact it was polarizing. I hated it, but wanted to love it. Now, Fernet is one of my favorite amaros to mix. Fernet will grow on you if you give it a chance. Really great drink!

I love Fernet and have had a fair amount of experience with it, and I still feel halving it for this drink is probably a good idea. Really good as it is, though.

This really is great, but I thought the non-bourbon ingredients were all a bit too much. I prefer 1/2 oz Cointreau, 3/8 oz Fernet, 1/4 oz Maraschino. You still hit all the notes, but it's a little less sweet and the Fernet stays behaved. Also prefer a higher proof bourbon here, such as Knob, but in truth that's almost always what I prefer in Manhattan variants like this.

I second that, higher proof bourbon improves this. I do 1/2 oz dry Orange Curaçao, 1/2 oz Fernet, 1/4 oz Maraschino. A generous piece of orange peel is also really good, I usually cut a long spiral out with a channel knife over the drink.

An interesting, complex drink with a lot going on taste-wise. I carefully reviewed the comments made about the drink before I made it. Based on my experiences with each of the ingredients, I understood why the comments were made and agreed with them. I wondered only about Fernet Branca; in some drinks it can overpower the other ingredients and a smaller amount needs to be used, but with other cocktails the Fernet Branca seems right at home, and no change in its amount needs to be made. In this case I started off with Elijah Craig bourbon (97 proof) My other choices were Jim Beam Black label (87 proof) and Woodford Reserve (90 proof) I would not want to go over 95 proof, as I think something like Booker's at 127 proof would simply overwhelm the other ingredients--and maybe the drinker! Then, as was suggested by several, I used 1/2 oz Grand Marnier, 1/4 oz Fernet Branca, 1/4 oz Maraschino liqueur, 2 ds Regans' orangs bitters, and a good-sized orangs swath to exprss the oils.

My results:  The final cocktail, with its adjustments, was very tasty and balanced. There were two changes that I made--which were for the better. First, I added just a few additional drops of Maraschino Liqueur, so that the total amount (from the first and second amounts) equaled a "fat" 1/4 oz. The need for the second change surprised me: I had to add a few more drops of Fernet Branca, which smoothed out both the Grand Marnier and the Maraschino Liqueur, and provided a better balance of overall tastes among the ingredients.In short, between what I originally added of Fernet Branca and what I added later, was the equivalent of a "fat" 1/4 oz.

My only other caveat is that Grand Marnier and Cointreau are not the same, and the equivalent amount may result in a different taste. This is because Grand Marnier has a Cognac base, whereas Cointreau does not.

In summary:  Based on the comments made by others and my experience with the recipe for the "Root of All Evil," I suggest the following for its recipe:

2 oz of a high-proof (about 90 proof) Bourbon, 1/2 oz Grand Marnier (if using Cointreau, adjust to taste), a "fat" 1/4 oz Fernet Branca (adjust to taste), a "fat" 1/4 oz Maraschino liqueuer (adjust to taste), 2 ds Regans' orange bitters, and a wide orange swatch (express the oil and drop in cocktail) I rate this cocktail between 4.0 and 4.5.

Like many others, I’ve reduced the amaro and maraschino. I’ve made this now probably two dozen times and it’s my favorite cocktail. 

my recipe, which benefits from some local Northeastern distilleries:

2 oz high-proof Bourbon (try Putnam, a Boston local!)

1/2 oz Grand Marnier

a "fat" 1/4 oz Amaro (such as Fernet Branca or 👉Marseille, a Brooklyn distillery)

a "fat" 1/4 oz Maraschino liqueur

2 dashes orange bitters


Pour into shaker with ice, stir, strain into a highball with an ice block, garnish with a twisted orange peel




As-is first try, then replaced orange bitters with absinthe, completely transformed the profile. I prefer it with the absinthe, but your mileage may vary